Unpublished: Being Church of Christ

I believe in the locally autonomous congregation, where the gathered believers bind and loose in their own unique contexts.

I believe in the priesthood of all believers.

I believe that preachers are not pastors but evangelists and that being an evangelist doesn't automatically make you a pastor.

Theologically, I believe that a capella congregational singing is the purest form of worship there is.

I believe the reason we gather on the Lord's Day is to partake of the Lord's Supper.

I believe that the proper response to the gospel proclamation is to be buried with Christ in baptism by immersion.

I don't confess any creed but the Bible alone and that we must daily search the Scriptures reasoning together in our local congregations.

I believe we should try to pattern our common lives together after the example of the church as revealed in the book of Acts and the Epistles.

I believe in the unity of the body of Christ, that we should claim to be Christians only but not the only Christians.

--from a draft of an unpublished list I was working with trying to articulate why I am affiliated with the Churches of Christ

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13 thoughts on “Unpublished: Being Church of Christ”

  1. I'm ambivalent about preserving any tradition. Scripture tells us that "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a clear conscience, and sincere faith." and that "God is love." In theory, then, isn't a commitment to agape the only description of the Church toward which we should not be ambivalent?

  2. Richard, I really appreciate this post.
    I've only been reading your blog for a few months now, and I have enjoyed everything you've said that is building towards change--a change in practice, a change in understanding, etc. It is so needed, including for myself.
    However, I am greatly encouraged by an intellectual's affirmation of a particular tradition, allowing the mind the chance to rest in something good--not always rejecting and changing. It's nice to rest once in a while.

  3. I grew up in the Church of Christ, but haven't been a member for thirty years. The reasons listed above are very sound and beautiful when expressed through love and a non-judgmental mind. But I can remember when they were used as weapons of religious wars. And, in some places, they still are, with the other hand wielding the hammer of Right Wing politics.

    So, the question is, will these traditions be carried and expressed by loving hearts, leaving the hammer behind? In certain areas of the country, that remains to be seen.

  4. Richard, I admire
    your courage to reject 2000 years of RC and Eastern Orthodox Tradition and
    stand alone, so help you God. It is
    because of the nurturance of that tradition that we can be in a position to
    reject it.

  5. Are statements of personal conviction creeds if they are not required of others as tests of fellowship?

  6. Hmmmmm ... "Theologically, I believe that a capella congregational singing is the purest form of worship there is." As both a musician and an Anglican priest, I'd love to hear your rationale (theological, of course) for this. I can understand an aesthetic rationale (which largely depends on personal taste) and a musical rationale ... but I can't quite wrap my head around a theological rationale without some help from you on this. (It hasn't quite kept me awake, but it has been at the forefront of my mind.

    I appreciated this post, although I would affirm other beliefs than yours. Isn't it great that I continue to appreciate you even so?

  7. It connects to what I believe about the priesthood of all believers. I don't think any form of worship represents the egalitarian nature of the communion of the saints and the priesthood of all believers as well as a capella music. Acoustic koinonia.

    There is also a beautiful creational and Incarnational theology about using voices only as instruments.

    Also a Trinitarian theology regarding the interpenetration of vocal harmonies, many parts making a whole.

    Finally, it doesn't fetishize performance or talent. There is no focal point but the entire congregation.

  8. Admittedly I'm being persnickety ;o) "Creed" comes from "credo" which means "I believe".

    I've read Richards' blog long enough to know that he would not exclude those who didn't hold with the his same "I believes".

    I grew up in the sectarian Churches of Christ and remained until age 44. I'm glad that many have "come full circle".

  9. "Fetishize performance or talent?" That line of thought and argument never made much sense (and is a gross misunderstanding of the purpose of worship and musicians in high church traditions, not to mention many other traditions), and it especially makes no sense now, given how "Acappella" music is practiced in most evangelical churches. The cult of the "worship leader" with the microphone and the performing praise team is much more a fetishisaztion of performance than an organist, who can't be seen, supporting the singing and the musical worship. (Not to mention African traditions and many, many more.) Your other points about Trinitarian and incarnational theology are a stretch. Yme's points below are excellent, and much more could be said. Could you explain what you mean by that?

  10. I will have to partially retract my earlier comment, Tom. A Nashville Church of Christ recently introduced an optional instrumental service. They have been attacked in the local media by more conservative C of C's. Sigh.

  11. I disagree with Richard on mainly aesthetic grounds. Theologically, I think the priesthood of all believers argument for a capella worship is very strong. Not everyone can play an instrument. Everyone can take part in singing. Even if they sound awful (to us).

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